CEDAR FALLS _ More than halfway done!

That's the story after Wednesday's session of RAGBRAI, which had us with 292 of the route's 477 miles completed.

Wednesday's route of the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa was exciting in the fact I got to visit with several members of my wife's family.

On Tuesday night, during the overnight stop in Hampton, my wife Marsha, her brother John, his fiancee Brenda and I went uptown to see one of the better bands I've heard lately, Vic Ferrari.

The band allegedly played at the wedding reception of former University of Iowa and current NFL football star Dallas Clark. They played a variety of music from the 70s and 80s and were EXCELLENT.

John and Brenda decided to join in Wednesday's ride, with the day's route starting with a 17 mile pedal to Aredale.

It was another beautiful morning, slightly chilly when we started but heating up quite nicely without a cloud in the sky.

In Aredale we split up as John and Brenda wished to stop for breakfast and I was just seeking coffee, so I continued another seven miles to Dumont.

An interesting attraction in Dumont was a rock-climbing wall, which gave riders a different challenge as they rested their bottoms from their bicycle seats.

After that it was nine miles to Kesley, home of former Iowa football player and current Green Bay Packer Aaron Kampman.

As someone there told me, it's hard to believe someone who's made it that big is from such a small village in Iowa.

It was also in Kesley where I hopped on a tractor parked in the middle of the street and took a photo just to display how crowded it gets in pass-through towns.

It was also funny watching some people (non Iowans, I'm sure) not having any clue how to climb up on the tractor.

From there we cruised six miles to Aplington. Even though it was short, there were a few hills in that span that caused some challenges.

Aplington was a stop I was very much looking forward to since Marsha's brother, Denny, was helping run the fireman's beverage garden and food stop at his auto shop.

Marsha's dad Lee is in the care center across the street from the shop and we brought him over for a sandwich.

I got a chance to visit with several other familiar faces at the shop, including Denny's wife Mary (thanks for the free Aplington RAGBRAI t-shirt, Mary), their daughter Kasey and her boyfriend Chris, as well as Jim Sharp and Brenda Poppens.

Travis, the son of Denny and Mary, was also doing Wednesday's route and pulled in a while after I did.

He'd had some challenges as he could use just one gear on his bike, forcing him to be passed by old ladies going up hills.

We stayed at the shop for quite some time before I finally convinced Travis to go the rest of the route with me.

That route consisted of a 14 mile journey to Stout, which was made a bit tough by the wind from the south, and a final 13.5 mile pedal past the UNI-Dome into Cedar Falls.

Boy, was that a nice site after a hot day of riding!

I'm diverting from my usual habit of sleeping at the campground, instead taking advantage of an offer to stay at the home of Marsha's other brother, Larry. I thank him, his wife Becky, and their kids Michael and Matthew for letting me intrude. I do love the home-cooked meal (getting a little tired of vendor food) and the air conditioning.

The overall distance today was 68 miles. On a toughness scale, it was harder than Tuesday's ride but much easier than Monday's.

Tomorrow we take off for Independence on our shortest journey to date, just 63 miles.

I'll check in afterwards.

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